The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Sen. Lincoln, Rep. Boozman, Rep. Ross, Grassroots Leaders on April 1-2 Agenda

Posted on March 16, 2010 at 01:33 PM

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Congressman John Boozman, Congressman Mike Ross and grassroots leaders from across the eight-state Delta region will be featured at the annual Delta conference on April 1-2, 2010 at the Clinton Presidential Center. President Bill Clinton spoke via the audio system the last few years and he has been invited again. As we emphasized earlier, deadlines for early registration fees and the group hotel are close of business tomorrow, March 17.

Sen. Lincoln (D-AR) and Rep. Boozman (R-AR) are at present generally considered to be the two leading candidates for the US Senate race in Arkansas, which is hotly contested and will have not only state and regional but a national impact.

Sen. Lincoln is chair of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, which handles a wide range of vital issues including nutrition, rural housing, rural small business, rural utilities, some renewable energy issues, agriculture, and forestry, and she is also a member of the Senate Finance Committee. Rep. Boozman has represented the northwest Arkansas Congressional district for many years, and his challenge could potentially have a major impact on the balance of power in the Senate. The Delta Caucus will not make a formal endorsement but will ask tough questions of these leaders about what they plan to do in promoting community and economic development in our region.

Rep. Boozman appears on Friday, April 2, at 10:30 a.m. at the Great Hall of the Clinton Library. Sen. Lincoln speaks at the luncheon at the Great Hall of the Clinton Library on Friday, April 2.

There will be question and answer sessions for the major candidates.

We have invited another Democratic challenger for the US Senate, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, but haved not received an answer yet.

Rep. Mike Ross will speak on Thursday evening, April 1, at the Clinton School of Public Service at approximately 5:45 p.m. Rep. Ross also has opposition in this year’s election.

The Delta Caucus will be sending questionnaires to Congressional candidates throughout the region over the course of this year, and certainly not just to the Arkansas candidates. We want to press the powers that be to take a public stand on exactly what they would do to promote a brighter future for our region when they are asking for our votes.

On the agenda we will have grassroots leaders from across the eight-state region from southern Illinois and Missouri down through Arkansas, west Tennessee and Mississippi to New Orleans and eastward to Selma, Alabama. The early registration fee and group hotel deadlines are March 17.

At this point we have 126 RSVPs, but we plan to expand the number of places due to the strong interest in attending this year. So we will do our best to find space for those who want to come.

The opening session is Thursday, April 1 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Clinton School of Public Service and Friday, April 2, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Great Hall of the Clinton Library.

The main themes will be job creation and economic recovery from the recession, transportation and infrastructure, and health care legislation’s impact on improving inadequate health care in the eight-state Greater Delta region from southern Illinois to New Orleans.


REGISTRATION–Please RSVP if you want to be assured of a space. You register for the April 1-2, 2010 conference by mailing in the $85 early registration fee. Please make out the check to “Delta Grassroots Caucus,” with a note, “For April, 2010 conference,” and mail to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

(Attention: Lee Powell)

311 Schoolwood Lane

Little Rock, Arkansas 72207

Please note that the early registration period ends on March 17, 2009, after which the registration is $100.

Please note that for groups for 10 or more, the early registration fee group discount is $60 each.

GROUP HOTEL: We have a good group hotel rate of $78 at the Comfort Inn & Suites at the Clinton Library in Little Rock. To get that rate, just call the hotel at 501-687-7700 by March 17, 2010 for the night of April 1. (There are also several suites for $88.) for the night of April 1, 2010. You will only need the one hotel night, since you can store your luggage in the morning of the main session on April 2 and come back and pick them up that afternoon when the conference ends.


OPENING SESSION–Thursday, April 1, 5 P.M. TO 8 P.M., Clinton School of Public Service

5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.–Reception

INTRODUCTION–Lee Powell, Delta Grassroots Caucus

5:30–Welcome by James “Skip” Rutherford, Dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service

5:45–6:20–Congressman Mike Ross


6:45–8 p.m.–Panel on best practices and models for community and economic development, with Charita Johnson Burgess of the Shiloh Distribution Center in west Tennessee, along with another west Tennessee grassroots leader; a speaker from the National Housing Assistance Council in Washington, DC; Mayor Sheldon Day of Thomasville, Alabama, and a speaker representing the southeast Arkansas area of the Delta.

MAIN SESSION, FRIDAY, APRIL 2, 9 A.M. TO 4 P.M., Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Center

9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.–“Big picture” panel on regional economic development, with Johnnie Bolin of the Arkansas Good Roads Transportation Countil; Josh Tubbs, Marshall County Economic Development Dept. western Kentucky; Buddy Spillers of the Macon Ridge Community Development Corp., northern Louisiana; Tim Smith, Louisiana Community Housing Development Corp., New Orleans, Louisiana; Mayor Brad Cole, Carbondale, Illinois; Mike Marshall, banker, former mayor of Sikeston, Missouri, and long-time Delta regional advocate.

10:30 a.m.–Rep. John Boozman

11a.m.–Mayor Barrett Harrison and Nucor Yamato Steel Representative

Rep. Robert Moore, who has been elected the next Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives

11:30 a.m.–William Jeter, Clinton School of Public Service graduate student who is working on a service project in the Delta

INVITED–President William Jefferson Clinton, to speak over the audio system and answer a few questions

NOON TO 1;15 P.M.–Sen. Blanche Lincoln

1:15 to 2:25–HEALTH CARE ISSUES FOR THE UNDERSERVED DELTA Dr. Aaron Shirley, leader of the “Health Houses” idea, distinguished medical doctor with the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation; James Miller of the Oxford International Development Group in Oxford, Mississippi, another leader of the “Health Houses” concept; Dr. Margaret Bogle of the USDA anti-obesity and nutrition program in the Delta; Larry Williams of the Delta Citizens Alliance, a nonprofit that works on a range of innovations in the Delta, including health care initiatives for underserved areas.

2:25 to 3:55 p..m.–A Case Study of Innovations and Remaining Challenges in Community Development in One important Delta community–Helena, West Helena Arkansas Catherine Bahn, assistant director of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Together for Hope program in Arkansas; Ginny Blankenship, Chief Development officer for the KIPP School program (Knowledge Is Power Program), an innovative and successful new educational system in Helena-West Helena that recently expanded into Blytheville, AR; Chaulk Mitchell, lawyer who does legal services for lower-income people and is also president of the board of KIPP; Will Staley of THRIVE, a new nonprofit that works on website design and local entrepreneurship activities; Michael Ashanti of Heifer International, who is based in Helena-West Helena and works on a variety of initiatives for nutrition and small farmers; Katie Harrington of the Delta Cultural Center in Helena-West Helena; INVITED–Kevin Smith, former state senator and long-time Delta regional leader.

The concept of a “case study” panel on one community is a new one, and we are planning to have one panel each year that will focus on a couple of communities. Several of these speakers and organizations are based in Helena-West Helena but have wider activities in other areas of the region.

We are working on finalizing the speakers and panels now. Confirmed speakers thus far include Sen. Lincoln, Rep. Boozman, and Rep. Ross, Dr. Aaron Shirley, and Dean Skip Rutherford of the Clinton School of Public Service will be our host for the opening service. Dean Rutherford always does a great job and the Clinton School and Clinton Foundation are actively involved in promoting progress in the Delta. President Clinton and Governor Mike Beebe have spoken the last several years and we are inviting them again.

Other confirmed speakers include:

Mayor Barrett Harrison of Blytheville, Arkansas, board member of the Delta Caucus who has a great record of economic development for northeast Arkansas;

Dr. Aaron Shirley, Jackson Medical Mall Foundation in Mississippi, and James Miller of the Oxford International Development Group, to inform us about the innovative “Health Houses” concept for expanding health care to underserved communities in the Delta–a concept that has been endorsed by the United Nations and received international attention and is currently being expanded in Mississippi;

Mike Marshall, long-time Delta regional economic development advocate, former Mayor of Sikeston, Missouri, served for 14 years on the Southeast Missouri Regional Port Authority, 31 years of experience as a banker including president of First State Bank in Sikeston;

Charita Johnson Burgess, Delta Caucus west Tennessee co-coordinator and community development expert, Shiloh Distribution Center in western Tennessee.

Minnie Bommer, long-time Delta regional advocate and rural development expert, Delta Caucus west Tennessee co-coordinator, Covington, Tennessee

Johnnie Bolin, executive director of the Arkansas Good Roads Transportation Council, who is one of the most knowledgeable experts about transportation issues in the region;

Mayor Brad Cole of Carbondale, Illinois, a progressive Republican leader from the southern Illinois Delta and one of our stalwart regional partners;

Buddy Spillers, Louisian co-coordinator of the Delta Caucus along with Dr. Obadiah Simmons of Grambling State University; Mr. Spillers is head of the Macon Ridge Community Development Corp. in northeast Louisiana;

Tim Smith, President and CEO of the Lousiiana Housing and Community Development Corporation, based in New Orleans;

The national Housing Assistance Council in Washington, DC will have a representative to deal with housing issues in the Delta;

Josh Tubbs, Marshall County Economic Development office in western Kentucky, Mr. Tubbs works on a variety of economic development issues, including progress on completing the Interstate 69 Corridor;

We look forward to seeing you in Little Rock on April 1-2, 2010 to advocate for the Greater Delta Region. Thanks very much–Lee Powell, MDGC (202) 360-6347